AMICUS STOVE WITH STEALTH IGNITER
TEST SERIES BY JOHN R. WATERS
INITIAL REPORT - November 18, 2015
LONG TERM REPORT - April 21, 2016
John R. Waters
jrw at backpackgeartest dot org
Canon City, Colorado USA
5' 9" (1.75 m)
175 lb (79.40 kg)
My backpacking began in 1999. I have hiked rainforests in Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico, glaciers in New Zealand and Iceland, 14ers in Colorado and Death Valley's deserts.
I hike or snowshoe 6-8 miles (10 km-13 km) 2-3 times weekly in the Cooper Mountain range, with other day-long hikes on various other southwest and central Colorado trails. I frequently hike the mountains and deserts of Utah and Arizona as well.
My daypack is 18 lb (8 kg); overnights' weigh over 25 lb (11 kg). I'm aiming to reduce my weight load by 40% or more.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: SOTO Outdoors
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.sotooutdoors.com
MSRP: US $ 45.00
Listed Weight: 2.6 oz.(75 g)
Measured Weight: 2.6 oz (75 g)
Made in Japan
Draw String Fabric Carrying Case Included
Manufacturer's Published Specifications
Output: 2600 kcal/h 3030 W 10210 BTU 1 kcal/h can raise 1000 cc (1.8 oz) of water 1 C (34 F) in 1 hour
Duration: Burns approx. 1.5 hours with 8 oz.(250 g) canister.
Dimensions: When open fully: W 3.0 x D 4.0 x H 3.4 inches (W 7.6 x D 10.0 x H 8.6 cm)
When stowed: W 1.7 x D 1.6 x H 3.0 inches (W 4.3 x D 4.0 x H 7.5 cm)
Note: Dimensions actually measured as above. Burn time does not indicate flame height or valve open percentage
I just received my AMICUS stove by SOTO. Next in the SOTO family, after the OD-1R and the Windmaster, this little thing looks like a technology winner. Tomo Sekiguchi from SOTO has been explaining their extraordinary engineering to me for years now and every time he comes out with a new stove, it's exciting to get one to field test.
SOTO calls this the "low cost stove with high-end performance" and we'll see how this tiny $45 retail stove performs. Winter is coming to Colorado and there is nothing that can beat a stove down more than cold mountain winds and high altitudes.
The AMICUS is a stove designed for the entry-level stove user. It comes in two models: One without the igniter that sells for around $40 or this one with the electric igniter for $45. The weight difference is 0.3 oz (6 g) - the self igniter model being the heavier of the two.
The unit folds down like my multi-knife and is not much larger and can easily fit in my shirt pocket.
The four legs fold up and lock into place and have about 0.25 in (0.64 cm) movement to allow for pot movement. The legs create a support circle of 4.3 in (110 mm)
The electric igniter output spark is in the center of the concave stove facing. The igniter is a red push button at the base. The stove facing is concave with a high outer lip to form a deep dish designed to handle wind better.
The stove mates to a standard butane gas canister. Specification is that an 8 oz (227 g) canister will burn for approximately 1.5 hours, but there is no indication of flame level this was tested at.
The valve is a triple O-ring seal not usually found on products in this price range which is a bonus.
This unit has a traditional needle valve and does not have the Micro-Regulator of the higher end SOTO stoves, but does use pretty much the same under pot design where the space between the pot and flame is kept at a minimum and the stove facing is concave and wind protected as much as possible.
I find it interesting that this little guy has the same BTU output as almost the entire SOTO stove line (2800 kcal/h or 3260 Watts or 11,000 BTU).
|Folded up. Red button by thumb is igniter.|| |
|Pot support legs fold up and lock.|| |
|Fully expanded. Needle valve control by thumb.|
|Main burner face. Igniter is in center.|| |
|Bottom view of gas canister. connector|
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
SOTO includes a two-sided 8.5 x 11 in ( 21.6 x 28 cm) sheet of instructions with the AMICUS which covers the usual safety warnings along with step by step instructions for mounting, using, extingusihing the flame and after care. There is an additional section on the cleaning and maintenance of the stove. There is a lot of information contained in the instruction sheet and I'm not going to even try to paraphrase the small print. I will cover most of the pertinent information during my field reports.
So, off we go. My wife has been busy for months dehydrating meals. We have zip closure bags full of really nice meals that we have previously trail tested. So we'll eat well. Therefore, mostly the AMICUS just has to boil some water, but under the worse chore we can toss at it, it'll also have to handle a frying pan to grill up some bacon in base camp...
First stop for the AMICUS stove is a week-long trip to Michigan's wet and low-elevation mid and Upper Peninsula for some snowshoe adventures. And then, we are back in dry high-altitude terrain for the rest of the winter.
LONG-TERM FIELD TEST PERFORMANCE
I've known SOTO technologies as an innovator of technology for camping and backpacking stoves. Their top-of-the line stoves use a unique micro-regulator valve design. The Amicus uses more traditional needle-valve design, but incorporates SOTO's burner design that improves performance in windy conditions by being more concave.
I've used their WindMaster stove before and had great success, so I was looking forward to using this new low cost Amicus under some of the same conditions.
Over the testing period, I've used the SOTO Amicus Stove with Stealth Igniter a total of 10 times. My use was a mixture of day hikes and snowshoes and 2 overnight trips. I've detailed a couple of those uses below as examples of how and where I used the stove and how it performed.
In the winter when snow piles up to the point that the road must be closed, Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park becomes a good place to snowshoe. During our Christmas trip, we took a snowshoe along it so we could be up high, get low temperatures and find wind. The last time we snowshoed up there I came around a corner and the wind got under my snowshoes and picked me up and tossed me on my butt.
Trail Ridge Road closure, where we started, is at approximately 8,500 ft (2600 m) high. The road is closed in the winter because the snow gets to be 20 ft (6 m) or more high, so we can only get so far in by car. On this trip we snowshoed up a couple of hours before we stopped for lunch at a beautiful spot with wonderful mountain views. The temperature was 18 F (-8 C) and the wind was behaving at only 7 mph (11 km/ph) or so.
We set up the Amicus and were ready to enjoy some dehydrated chili. My wife and daughter-in-law have become quite proficient at making dehydrated trail meals. So we just have to boil water first and toss in the dehydrated stuff. We always use a wind shield now at these altitudes, and did not test without it on this trip because we were hungry and we just wanted to eat!
|Enjoying Chili in RMNP|| |
|Cooking in the Snow|
The Stealth Igniter worked without a problem the first time it was pushed. Water (about 4 cups/32 oz/1 L) boiled in 5 minutes 20 seconds with the pot lid on and the chili was SO hot that we couldn't eat it right away. The Amicus was cool to the touch when we were finished eating and was simply put back in its pouch. Its pot support "wings" folded down easily and the valve handle folded up nicely forming a compact thing only 2.25 inches (5.7 cm) wide by 3 inches (7.6 cm) high. It was quick and simple to cook up that meal and clean up.
Another trip we backpacked was on the Newlin Creek Trail in Florence, Colorado. There, we had totally different weather conditions to use the Amicus. No snow at all and mild wind. On the way in, we stopped at about 7500 ft (2300 m) high in an area where beautiful cliffs surround the trail. The area is popular for rock climbing and the trail has multiple creek crossings, some VERY challenging in the spring and real fun when frozen over.
|Making Gumbo on Newlin Creek Trail|| |
|Gumbo coming up!|
Again, we used the Amicus, but without the wind shield and boiled water for another dehydrated gourmet meal of gumbo. The Amicus worked wonderfully. The igniter worked flawlessly despite the stove sliding off and dropping on a rock prior to using it. Temperature was 22 F (-6 C) with almost no wind. Water boiled in 4 minutes 43 seconds.
When prepping all these dehydrated meals, we still leave the stove on to simmer while mixing the dehydrated food to let the water hydrate the mix. The Amicus heat control was excellent and allowed us to simmer and stir the mix until it was ready to eat. And the meal was always quite hot when splitting up portions.
We used Giga Power fuel canisters. It sure was nice to have that Stealth Igniter on the Amicus and not be messing around with matches.
Our cookware consisted of a 5 inch (13 cm) high by 5 inch (13 cm) diameter aluminum pot (1.7 quarts/1.6 liters). The Amicus, sitting on top of a small fuel canister is slightly top heavy with this size pot and can be difficult to balance on uneven terrain when filled with water or solid food. So, we like to use a stabilizer base on the bottom of the fuel canister, when possible, with any stove we use. When used with such a base on fairly level ground, the Amicus can be safely used with much larger diameter pots without the fear of tipping over.
Here are some analytical measurements I made at 48 F (9 C) temperature at 5635 ft (1718 m) altitude with a humidity of 47%, and a dew point of 30 F (-1 C).
I scooped up 3 cups (0.75 qt or 0.7 L)) of icy snow (yes, I used a measuring cup) and packed the snow down a bit in the cup. Then I dumped it into a 6.8 cup (1.7 qt or 1.6 L) aluminum pot that was at 48 F (9 C) ambient temperature. Next I started the Amicus with the igniter and turned the valve to 50% open. Water came to a rolling boil in 4 minutes and 55 seconds.
While the pot cooled off, I put the Amicus on a postage meter scale and turned the valve to full open and let it go full blast until the weight reduced 0.5 ounces (14 g). It took 7 minutes. I was using a Giga Power canister that has a 3.88 oz (110 g, 200.73 ml) net starting volume. Of course, when weighing the canister, the weight I saw included the can, but all I was interested in is the change in weight.
So, doing some calculations, 7 minutes for 0.5 oz (14 g) reduction in net weight would mean that a 3.88 oz (110 g) canister theoretically COULD last close to an hour of full blast cooking time (3.88/0.5 half ounces = 7.76 half ounces in the canister x 7 minutes each = 54 minutes.). That's with a full open valve and we don't usually do that when just cooking.
Once the pot cooled, I put 3 cups (0.75 qt or 0.7 L)) of 52 F (11 C) water into the pot and with the Amicus valve half open it took 3 minutes 43 seconds to boil that water. I removed the pot, checked the canister weight and saw that I used 0.25 oz (7.1 g) of fuel. So boiling water with the valve half open gave me 3.88/0.25 = 15.52 quarter ounces in the canister x 3.72 minutes each = approximately 58 minutes of water boiling time with a half open valve. That's only 3 minutes longer than the calculation previously with a full open valve, but it DOES make the canister last longer.
I started timing the cool-down time as soon as I turned the valve off and it was 2 minutes before the entire body of the Amicus could be held in my hand and put into the Amicus carry bag. The pot supports cooled within 30 seconds. It was the stem and the burner that needed more time.
Not all canisters act the same. Close, but some are different because of how they are pressurized and the humidity when filled. From my experience, I have found I can figure that 7 minutes per half ounce (14 g) net weight would be safe to use for a full open valve. That still gives me some safety room because I don't cook with the valve full open most of the time.
I have canisters that have a net weight of twice the one I use for this test series, so those canisters could give me an expected 2 hours of cooking time with this stove.
Each stove's fuel consumption will vary because each manufacturer's stoves will have a different flow rate through the valve. SOTO says the Amicus will last 1.5 hours generally with an 8 ounce (250 g) canister and that is pretty close to what I saw here. My usage found that 3.88 oz (110 g) of fuel gave 54 minutes, so 8/3.88 = 2.04 x 54 minutes = 110 minutes, which is 20 minutes longer than 1.5 hours.
So I concluded there is that wiggle room when figuring out how many canisters to bring along. I make it easy on myself and plan on my use being 11 mins per ounce (28 g) to be SUPER safe. Again, from my experience, an 8 ounce (250 g) canister can be figured to last 11 minutes x 8 oz (250 g) = 88 minutes and so-on.
THINGS I PARTICULARLY LIKE
1.) I like the compact size of the Amicus. It fits nicely inside the aluminum pot we used; right on top of the larger 7.8 oz (220 g, 401 ml) canister that gives me up to almost 90 minutes of cook time usually.
|Quite Small. AA Battery and Amicus|| |
|Tucked in Cook Pot|
2.) It's efficient. The Stealth Igniter worked wonderfully. Never even hesitated.
3.) It is well made and I'm confident it will give many years of cooking time and the enjoyment of those wonderful dehydrated meals my wife and daughter-in-law prepare.
4.) Oh, and with all this wonderful technology, the retail price is amazingly affordable for even the novice backpacker or day hiker.
Whether I'm doing overnight backpacking or day hiking, I find that I get a lot of enjoyment from a stove like this. The SOTO Amicus and a small pot take up little room in my pack. It's nice to stop for a hot meal, some tea or coffee, and a snack, while sitting and enjoying the scenery, especially on a cold and snowy day. The SOTO Amicus with Stealth Igniter fits the bill perfectly. I plan to use it often this suumer. In fact, my wife just snatched it off my desk to pack for our departure tomorrow morning for Glen Canyon, Arizona, where we will enjoy nice hot meals in the wild the next 10 days.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.
Thank you to BackpackGearTest.org and SOTO Outdoors for the opportunity to try out the AMICUS Stove with Stealth Igniter.
John R. Waters
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